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Alaska 2015


LindaH

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Thanks Linda, We will be headed to Stewards Icebox from Texas around April 17 with a arrival at Tetlin NWR May 18 where we will work in the visitor center for 10 weeks then spend the rest of the summer traveling. I pre-ordered my 2015 Milepost today. Personally have no questions though I have been offered advice from those who have gone before.

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Thanks Linda, We will be headed to Stewards Icebox from Texas around April 17 with a arrival at Tetlin NWR May 18 where we will work in the visitor center for 10 weeks then spend the rest of the summer traveling. I pre-ordered my 2015 Milepost today. Personally have no questions though I have been offered advice from those who have gone before.

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When you arrive at Teltin NWR, please give a report of the road, fuel, and weather conditions you experience while traveling through Canada. When we go to AK, hopefully in 2016 we anticipate leave the USA about May 1st. Some people say that is way to early to travel through Canada.

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We have made the trip in May and been snowed on as late as May 24, and friends have gone in April with no issues. May is not to early. The roads are reliably snow-free by mid April, but a late season dump is always possible. You just park and wait for the BC or Yukon road folks to do their thing, then travel on. It may add two or three hours to that day's travel, but there is usually a friendly gathering as all the people waiting begin conversing. The best part about May travel is there is still considerable ice on many lakes and along the rivers, and snow on the mountains, and relatively light traffic. The road conditions are vastly improved, not perfect, but improved. The project last year was a rebuild from Beaver Creek to the border. Also, check RV.NET down near the bottom for the Alaska section and many current reports.

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I believe it was late May or early June of 2012 when they had some heavy rains that washed out a portion of the hiway. A lot of travelers were stuck at Watson Lake & a few other places til they could make repairs. Luckily we beat all that mess by a week. But then again it snowed pretty heavily when we headed out of Destruction Bay.

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We have made the trip in May and been snowed on as late as May 24, and friends have gone in April with no issues. May is not to early. The roads are reliably snow-free by mid April, but a late season dump is always possible. You just park and wait for the BC or Yukon road folks to do their thing, then travel on. It may add two or three hours to that day's travel, but there is usually a friendly gathering as all the people waiting begin conversing. The best part about May travel is there is still considerable ice on many lakes and along the rivers, and snow on the mountains, and relatively light traffic. The road conditions are vastly improved, not perfect, but improved. The project last year was a rebuild from Beaver Creek to the border. Also, check RV.NET down near the bottom for the Alaska section and many current reports.

Thanks for the great info on spring travel to AK

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We are going to Alaska this summer but I am leaving USA to Canada July 7th and should not have to worry about snow. I am taking a caravan with a wagon master and tail gunner because this will be over 10,000 mile trip for us and we have no idea what to expect and don't want to miss things that are off the road 1/2 mile.

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In 2014 we crossed the Canadian border a few days befor May. We travelled the Eastern side of the Rockies, and due to too much snow bypassed Jasper area on the way North.

 

Being born in Key West, and raised in San Diego - I do not drive in snow:)! So we did pull off and stay in a few campgrounds for a up to three days one time, to allow the roads to clear. This was in the Red Deer area. Trucks pulled out and got going the second day, we were enjoying the area so much, we elected to stay longer.

 

Up along Muncho Lake area, we hunkered down for a great 6 day stay at Strawberry Flats Provincial Park. We got to the area one day before they opened for the season, so spent the first night outside of the locked gates in Site #1. Next day we were the first ones in, and picked whatever spot we wanted:)! We really enjoyed this stay. The lake was still frozen over, a real neat thing for us. Some good day hikes, just pockets of snow remaining on the ground in the shadows. This was of Victorias Day weekend, so we were told by others to find a place to get out of the Canadian's way as this was their first camping three day weekend of the season. Liard Hot Springs was packed, even the overflow areas were tight.

 

If you don't mind stopping if needed due to weather, I think leaving early May is OK. Yes, some parks are not yet open - but we never had a problem finding a place for the night.

 

What a trip, I'm excited for all that are going in 2015!!!

Smitty

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  • 4 weeks later...

Heading out in April to OR then up to AK. Our question is, does BC, YT & AK take Travelers checks or is it better just to charge most of everything.

 

When needing cash what is the safest to do. We don't do debit cards only credit. And which cards are usually taken the easiest: M/C, Visa, American Express?

 

Any help would greatly appreciated.

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Surprisingly, we have never used travelers checks. You can't go wrong with Visa and M/C.

We always use our Alaska Air Visa so we can rack up miles for our winter vacations and pay it off after the trip.

I found many places along the ALCAN will even accept USD.

I personally think there are very little safety issues but you can find an ATM or bank and withdraw some Canadian dollars.

 

I forgot to say this before but there is a Facebook group called Alaska RV Travelers. It's another great resource for asking questions.

Have a great trip!

Ben

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All the credit cards work, We have AmEX and MC and one or the other always works. We got $100CDN about 7 years ago and still have about $15 left after annual trips, The problem with cash or equivalent is the current exchange rate shows $1US to $1.27CDN. The credit card handles that quite well. One caution.... for fuel, ALWAYS go in the store and to pay. We have had several problems with fuel dispenser credit card readers north of Dawson Creek, where AmEx locked the card for suspected fraud. The next station let us use the phone to clear it up, but still... Also, if you do not normally travel out of the country, consider telling your card issuer beforehand.

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Heading out in April to OR then up to AK. Our question is, does BC, YT & AK take Travelers checks or is it better just to charge most of everything.

 

When needing cash what is the safest to do. We don't do debit cards only credit. And which cards are usually taken the easiest: M/C, Visa, American Express?

 

Any help would greatly appreciated.

 

Loose the travelers checks. Pay cash or use your credit card.

 

You can get cash at any bank or ATM and, I'm assuming, many grocery stores (but probably only if you use a debit card, which you say you don't have). I would exchange my U.S. money over to Canadian money at the earliest opportunity. While many Canadian stores will accept U.S. money, you usually don't get the best exchange rate doing it that way.

 

If you have more than one credit card, check with each of them to see how much they'll charge you for exchanging Canadian dollars into U.S. dollars when you charge something. The fee can be as high as 3% (and, by now, maybe more). That's a good reason to use cash whenever possible and save the credit card for large purchases.

 

And, before you leave Canada to come back into the Lower 48, try to use as much of your left-over coins as you can. U.S. banks will exchange Canadian money back into U.S. money, but they do so only for the paper money, not coins. (I believe that applies to Loonies and Toonies, too, but it's been awhile since we've done the Alaska trip, so my memory may be faulty.)

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MasterCard and Visa are more commonly accepted, Amex may be and it will often give you a bigger kickback on your spending.

 

Having two cards from different banks is a really good idea, if one gets compromised you can use the other for the week or two it can take to get a replacement card.

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Amen to having a second card to fall back on. We had one of our cards compromised in Watson Lake. Also a good idea to contact your card company and let them know where you're going. B.O.A. has a place on their web site where you can put in your itenerary.

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We went into BC in mid May in "09" while it was 70 degrees in Blaine Washington and 85 degrees in Fairbanks. The Milepost is a necessity as it has a lot of points of interest noted and I strongly recommend reading James Micheners "Alaska". We took 30 days touring BC and Yukon Territory. We were held up twice for a few days due to wild fires along side the highway. We watched the caravans fly by us, in a hurry to get to Alaska, missing a lot of the local interests. If you go to Denali, we highly recommend the park shuttle over the more pricey tour buses. The shuttle drivers know as much about the park as the tour drivers. Try to time getting to Talketna for the Moose Dropping Festival. Traveling to Haines and then heading towards Skagway, you should seriously consider taking the ferry to save a lot of fuel and driving. We had found a coupon book on the internet for around $100 and it saved us several hundred dollars in tour and food prices. Our biggest recommendation is to not be in a hurry. The frost heaves are usually, but not always, marked and if you insist on driving 65 MPH, you are asking for problems. We will be going back in the next year or two as it is too beautiful to take in in just 1 trip.

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Our biggest recommendation is to not be in a hurry. The frost heaves are usually, but not always, marked and if you insist on driving 65 MPH, you are asking for problems.

 

X2!

 

The people who say they've damaged their rigs driving the Alaska Highway (other than windshield chips, which can happen anywhere) were probably traveling too fast for the conditions.

 

The Alaska Highway is a good two-lane highway and improves each year. However, there will always be frost heaves to contend with as well as construction. When they do construction on the Alaska Highway, they usually tear up both lanes, so you'll have some distance to go on gravel. Please go slow through these areas so that you don't throw up gravel to damage on coming vehicles!

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Recommendation: Prior to traveling, alert your credit card/debit card company to the fact you will be going out of country. On two separate occasions with even two different banks we've had our cards suspended as possible fraud attempts. The banks were so kind as to send us an email alerting us to the fact - when we were outside service area. Only found out each time after trying to fuel up. Also, check your phone plan to ensure you don't get toggled for a higher access fee.

 

Last recommendations: Do not accept the offer to sign your name on the ceiling of Rosie's Bar in Pelican, AK. If you do get the chance to attend the Chitna bluegrass festival, it can be worth it!

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"We had found a coupon book on the internet for around $100 and it saved us several hundred dollars in tour and food prices." is probably the Alaska Toursaver, http://www.toursaver.com/ . A great deal for couples, since it is mostly two-for-ones.

X3

We took a flightseeing tour out of Talkeetna and that one trip coupon savings paid for the entire book.

Approach to "The Great One" (Denali)

post-13772-0-83324700-1428270407_thumb.jpg

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We plan to head north about mid May this year. As always road conditions can vary greatly. Seems that the roads are often better heading back down then up because they have been worked on most of the summer. Very typical that you can not use your credit card at a gas station island and have to take it inside first (fellow told me that was because the card was from out of country) and leave it until you finish topping off. In almost fifty years driving the road though I have never had a card refused. It is a great drive. A piece of cake now compared to the old days of dirt and dust most of the way.

Later,

J

 

PS We lost a windshield the year before last from a speed demon passing us (pulling a trailer no less) in one of the construction areas.

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